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Comment: Re:I almost hope they do it... (Score 1) 171

by steppedleader (#42855041) Attached to: Rapiscan's Backscatter Machines May End Up In US Federal Buildings
I think you are probably right on two points at once. "Assault weapons" look scary because they look like military weapons (which of course are associated more with killing people that the average hunting rifle) and military weapons look the way they do because of ergonomics. It's much easier to effectively use a highly ergonomic weapon in a high pressure situation, be it combat or a mass shooting. That is more than simply a cosmetic difference like some people claim, though.

I don't know why people don't just argue that in fairly close quarters like where many mass shootings take place, a handgun is as effective as an assault rifle, and someone with a couple handguns and a couple pockets full of magazines will in most cases be able to do just as much damage as someone with an AR-15 (read: Virginia Tech vs. Newtown). That's a perfectly good argument against banning assault weapons -- it's not worth it because it won't have a significant effect. To have a significant effect we would have to ban semi auto guns in general, which just isn't going to happen in the US without a massive cultural shift, regardless of the daydreams of a few congresscritters on the left.

Comment: Re:I almost hope they do it... (Score 1) 171

by steppedleader (#42851407) Attached to: Rapiscan's Backscatter Machines May End Up In US Federal Buildings

It's the gun grabbers who are calling to lock people away in jail for owning a rifle with scary parts

Even though I'm fairly liberal, I see little reason to believe bringing back the assault weapons ban will make a significant difference in gun deaths -- it would probably be somewhere well south of a 1% difference. So I'm not out arguing that the ban should be brought back.

However, every time someone says that the only difference between assault weapons and regular weapons is that the former look scary, I have to ask: Why are such guns so popular if that is the case? Do you realize you are implying that all those people clamoring to buy such guns are doing so simply because they look scary? If that is the only distinction between these guns and others, why else buy them? The sort of person who chooses a gun simply based on how scary it makes them look is exactly the sort of person that shouldn't have a gun.

There are, in fact, functional differences between assault weapons and other guns. How important those differences are with regards to mass shootings seems like a reasonable question, although as I mentioned, I doubt they are huge. Why don't you argue that instead of implying that people who share your politics are just fools who have bought into Bushmaster's marketing that they need an AR-15 to be big scary man?

Comment: Re:Reduce gun violence? (Score 1) 436

by steppedleader (#42766979) Attached to: Federal Gun Control Requires IT Overhaul
Obviously in certain configurations it looks like a military rifle, which I could understand some people being spooked by, since military rifles are more closely associated with killing people than a typical hunting rifle. That doesn't necessarily mean that's why people buy it, though. My point was to respond to the rather common argument made by the GP that the only things that make the AR-15 different from other semi-auto rifles are cosmetic factors -- the fact that some people find it to look "dangerous", or scary. It is people on the gun rights side of the debate who are arguing the only reasons to buy the gun is the way it looks, which makes it sound like people buy it to look dangerous.

As you point out, functional differences are, in fact, a part of the gun's appeal. To what extent those differences make it easier to kill lots of people quickly seems like a reasonable subject of debate. It's disingenuous, though, when people dodge that debate by claiming that those differences simply don't exist and that the gun just looks different.

Comment: Re:Reduce gun violence? (Score 1) 436

by steppedleader (#42765831) Attached to: Federal Gun Control Requires IT Overhaul

Secondly, "military style assault rifles" are not a problem, as those are fully automatic, and are highly regulated. If you believe that the semi-automatic rifles that look "dangerous" and which were banned for sale by the "assualt weapons" ban can give someone an advantage over a person who is carrying a not-as-dangerous-looking hunting rifle (for long range) or a pump-action shotgun (for close range), then take your own advice and "stop spouting off about things you don't know enough about".

This brings to mind a question I've had since this whole debate exploded after Newtown. If so-called "assault weapons" are effectively no different than other semi-automatic weapons, aside from looking scary, then why are so many people seemingly obsessed with owning such weapons? Every time there's talk of a ban on them, tons of people rush out to buy them. Why not just buy an ordinary looking semi-auto rifle if it would be just as effective? This makes me think that either there is more of a functional difference between "assault weapons" and other guns than gun rights people are willing to admit, or that a sizable portion of gun rights folks are just desperate to look like scary bad-asses. Some of the advertising I've seen points toward the latter (e.g. The AR-15: "Consider your man card reissued"). Are "assault weapons" buyers just really insecure about their manhood? Do they actively want to scare people? Are there other reasons to buy a "scary looking gun" if the only special thing about it is that it looks scary?

Comment: Re:Physics is on their side. (Score 1) 66

Laplace's Equation and Poisson's Equation are examples of elliptic equations. Among other things, Laplace's equation can be used to model irrotational fluid flows, and Poisson's equation can be used to relate spatial electric charge distributions to electric potential, which can in turn be related to an electric field.

I'm not extremely experienced with the details of numerically solving these equations numerically in parallel, but generally the solution of an elliptic equation at a given grid point depends on values at surrounding grid points. Since spatial domains are often broken into smaller tiles for parallel computing, this may complicate matters somewhat compared to a problem that solely depends on values at the previous time step.

Comment: Forbidden except when the state itself does it (Score 1) 732

by steppedleader (#42701769) Attached to: Credit Card Swipe Fees Begin Sunday In USA

Consumers in ten states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Texas) won't be affected, since laws in those states forbid the practice

In Oklahoma and Kansas, at least, there is a law forbidding the practice, but the states themselves are exempt from it, and are instead actually required to pass surcharges on to customers. They get me almost every time on my vehicle registration. It's hard to remember to carry a lot of cash or my checkbook on one single day each year, and I usually forget until I'm at the DMV and see the sign about the charges while in line waiting to pay. I suppose the point is to keep non-driving taxpayers to have to cover the cost of the surcharges. That makes sense, but it's pretty annoying nonetheless.

Comment: Re:such BS (Score 1) 656

by steppedleader (#42577717) Attached to: US Attorney Chided Swartz On Day of Suicide
Ah, so you are saying it's criminal every time a server gets overloaded because someone or some group of people were using it more heavily than it was able to handle. After all, once the server slows dramatically or goes down, service is being denied whether that was your intent or not. I hope you have never been a part of a slashdotting -- it'd be a shame if you had to go and turn yourself into the police for your crime now.

Seems rather absurd to treat a temporary and reversible depletion of limited resources, that can easily be caused by legitimate use of said resources, the same as we do something like homicide. When it comes to something like DoS, intent would obviously bear on whether or not a crime was committed.

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